There have always been things that genuinely puzzled me about the U.S. One of the first indelible shocks after I immigrated to Canada from communist Eastern Europe was a Billy Graham’s crusade I saw on TV. I had no clue. I knew it had to do with a religious revival, but I had no reference to what ‘religious revival’ looked like or what it was for. The purpose of the 60,000 that gathered to listen to Billy’s thunderous oratory was a complete mystery to me. Billy was incoherent. I was (and remain to this day) at a loss to understand what asking Jesus to come into one’s heart in a football stadium could do for anyone.
Similarly, I could not figure out Wonder Woman. Nothing in my cultural baggage could explain to me the need of women to identify themselves with such an obvious ripoff of Superman. Superman was easy to figure out: it was a compensatory phantasm for premature ejaculations. Anyone who wetted his pants as a teenager in a spot of heavy petting knows the import of instant change of clothing and the essential power to fly off in a jiffy on a heroic mission away from the mess and her doubts of your manhood. But why would women want to copy this particular escapism ? Is it some sort of erectile difficulty envy ?
Reading Bernie Quigley’s idolatrous odes to Sarah Palin last week is another ‘one of those’. Why would a wise guy like Bernie be falling all over himself in superlatives over the Alaska governor ? Yes, yes, she is bright and confident and very good-looking. She has the gift of the gab and definitely lights up the campaign, adding a buzz of genuine flakiness to the utter boredom and banality that McCain and his people have diligently worked to spread across the land. But it would be apparent to a college freshman with a gift of insight that a woman who describes herself on a national convention floor as a pitbull with a lipstick is not assessing herself as primarily brainpower.
Perhaps there are things about America an outsider will never understand. There appears to be a streak of phantasism that runs inside the heads of American politics which on occasion displaces contact with reality. I can think of no parallel to this phenom anywhere on earth. This is not ideology, or some hopelessly misplaced idealism, as it is sometimes made to look. I am talking intermittent suspension of cognitive function in waking states on which the American political soul depends as dolphins do on surfacing to get air into their lungs. Give'em a spot of sheer triumph: Carter’s Iran hostage rescue mission, Reagan’s “outlawing” the Soviets in a press conference, Madeleine Albright’s impassioned radio appeal in heavily accented Serbo-Croatian during Rambouillet urging Serbs to turn against Milosevic, Dick Cheney’s last week’s mission in Baku, telling Aliev to stop selling oil to Putin.
How else does one explain the nomination for VP by the managers of McCain, a septuagenarian presidential candidate who had a recent bout with malignant melanoma ? They landed on an attractive woman 2nd year governor, a post to which she rose from mayor of a town of 9,000. Eight years in politics; BA in journalism from Moscow, Idaho that is. A superstar ! Meteoric riser ! Don’t think about it ! Just play it ! She is an epoch-maker of the statue of Washington, Lincoln, F.D.R. says Bernie. Must be because she theoretically could be. And if the pundits ask stupid question just refer them to the inanities of her putative elders-and-wisers, the Establishment politicians. That will do the job ! Go girl; you can’t really screw up if you are rapture ready, can you now ?!